exo : rides


Fri, 12 Jan 2024

to the worlds and back

Riding through to Glasgow to see the Worlds was the plan pretty much as soon as I heard Glasgow was hosting them. I’ve got friends there who cycle so they’d be sympathetic to me turning up in a post ride state and have a sensible place to store a bike. Picking a date and a route was the only thing to do.

Circumstances meant riding through on the first Saturday to watch the elite men’s race on the Sunday and then heading home on the Monday. Naturally the Friday was not great weather wise.

I’d decided on going via Dunfermline because there’s a good cycle path that heads most of the way to the Clackmannanshire Bridge and then from there follow the canal to Glasgow. This would also tick the riding to the Kelpies box, as well as making for fairly easy navigation and not having to worry about how busy the roads were. In retrospect I slightly regret not following the course which would have been an option as it too went over the bridge, but it would have been a bit longer and a lot lumpier.

The forecast was for showers but I was hoping they’d mostly be short and come in later in the day, but no, 40 minutes from home I was sheltering under a tree hoping the rain would give up before donning a waterproof and heading off. Shortly after my shoes were full of water, largely kicked up from the road, but the worst of the rain was done. The rest of the ride to Dunfermline wasn’t too bad weather wise, a few spots of rain but pretty dry and in some places it clearly had barely rained.

Sadly the other side of Dunfermline was distinctly damp. Not so much due to falling rain as the cycle path was still soaked from earlier rain. There was also some rain falling, which continued on and off till the Kelpies. It did at least serve to slightly disguise the delight that is the Ineos refinery at Grangemouth.

My plan had been to stop at the Kelpies for food but given the weather looked to be clearing a bit I decided to press on and stop at a cafe later on. The section after the Kelpies is really not Scotland at its best. Lots of canal through towns no longer in their prime and not really prime territory for the sort of cafe I was looking for. I did stop briefly at the Falkirk Wheel, partly to look as it’s a lovely thing, and partly to empty the water from my shoes now the rain looked to definitely be done.

The cafe hunting was really not working out. The canal path itself was pretty good and, obviously, nice and flat so I made good progress. Good enough that with about 40km to go I decided to give up on the cafe idea and just press on to the end.

I’d decided not to follow the canal all the way as the end section looked a bit confusing so instead cut off and on to some back roads I’d pinched from the friend’s I was staying with Strava activities. What I’d not checked was how lumpy they were. Not anything substantial but some very up and down sections which given the lack of lunch I was really not up for. A quick stop at the garage round the corner from my destination to grab a thanks for having me bottle of wine and some snacks and I was done.

My shoes mostly dried out in time for watching the racing, which was absolutely worth the soaking.

The way back was originally planned to be the same in reverse, but the weather was much better so was always going to be more pleasant. I did get company for the first section so rode the start of the canal.

This time I did stop at the Kelpies for some food. It was fine but would not have been worth sitting in the rain for. It was as this point I decided I didn’t fancy the cycle path to Dunfermline as it’s an ex railway line so dead straight for ten or so kilometres and a steady one to two percent incline and tree lined so there aren’t even nice views. Nobodies idea of a good time.

Instead I went for the cycle route that goes along the North bank of the Forth. It also doubles as the start of the Fife Coastal path, and from Culross the start of the Pilgrim’s way. Much more pleasant and also parallel to a chunk of the previous day’s course. There was a bit of stopping to check maps as I was off course, much to the Garmin’s dismay, but largely the signage was good enough I could just follow it. Once I was in Dunfermline it was back on the planned route.

I’d pencilled in a food stop in Kinglassie as I knew there was on ok corner shop there. I figured I’d pick up some food and then stop at the next bench and sit and eat it.

The next bench was Markinch train station, ten kilometres along the road. This would have been ok if one of my purchases wasn’t a bag of crisps which I had to carry by holding it with my teeth. Still, the bench was nice and the crisps were good.

From there it was nice and straightforward to home.

posted at: 21:22 #

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